When applying WCAG 2.0 to your website – don’t forget Audio Description!

Audio description (AD), also referred to as described video (DV), makes media more inclusive. It gives the blind and people with low vision access to content they would otherwise be excluded from. So why is it so hard to find videos on the web that offer AD? Even in cases where web developers are Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 compliant, audio descriptions are often excluded from their video content.

There seems to be two key barriers to AD on the web:

1. The false belief that AD is not necessary to meet WCAG 2.0 standards

This one is easy to answer – WCAG 2.0 does in fact clearly state that AD is required for websites to be Level AA compliant.

“1.2.5 Audio Description (Prerecorded): Audio description is provided for all prerecorded video content in synchronized media. (Level AA)”

2. Media players are lacking the ability to easily select an alternate audio track

The answer here is much simpler than you think – just include two versions of each video. One that plays a standard version, and the second that plays an “open” AD version. This solution provides a great user experience, since access is simple and does not require a specific media player.

In addition, it satisfies web programmers because there is no need to account for the inability of technology to toggle between multiple embedded audio tracks, nor is there the need to ensure both audio files are synchronized to one video file.

This method is already in use by some web content providers. For example, the BBC iPlayer has a separate AD version for most of its video content.

So what are you waiting for? If you need help with your WCAG 2.0 compliance, give us a call.

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